Tag Archives: Disaster Preparedness

When Hubris and Arrogance Get in the Way of Human Safety

A fascinating article covering the story of Isaac Cline and his journey to rebuild his life and sense of purpose after surviving the Galveston Hurricane of 1900.

Galveston Hurricane
Photo: B.L. Singley /Library of Congress

Source: http://www.mnn.com/family/protection-safety/stories/what-we-learned-from-the-deadliest-hurricane-in-us-history

Rethinking the Way We Respond to Disasters

Most people give immediately after a crisis, in response to clear emotional appeals. Yet donors who allocate funds across the disaster life cycle have an opportunity to help insure that each dollar given reaches its full potential. This presentation discusses how individuals and organizations traditionally give during a crisis, and proposes several innovative approaches to promoting short- and long-term solutions to help communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

One After Another After Another

The United States experiences more than 1,000 tornadoes a year.

While most storms are weak and occur in sparsely populated areas, recent storms have inflicted heavy casualties in more populated regions of the country. Moore, OK, Tuscaloosa, AL, and Joplin, MO are the most recent communities to suffer.

Tornado_Courtesy of Gene Robertson
Image: Gene Robertson, PDS Storm Chasers

Tornadoes form when large air masses of different temperatures collide; when cold, dry air runs into warm moist air, which rises, condenses into heavy rain, and then falls in powerful downdrafts.   These conditions occur most often in the Great Plains, where the high altitude jet stream from the west converges with warm, moist air moving north from the Gulf of Mexico, and warm, dry air from the southwest.

One week after a devastating tornado hit the southern Plains of Oklahoma; a similar weather pattern is being repeated.

Earlier today the NWS Storm Prediction Center issued a moderate to severe threat warning for thunderstorms, tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds, Wednesday afternoon and evening for parts of the central and southern Plains, including parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

If you live in the areas of high risk, please be alert to changing weather conditions.  Look for the following danger signs:

  • Dark, often greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
  • Loud roar, similar to a freight train.

If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to TAKE SHELTER IMMEDIATELY.

There’s an APP for That

FEMA’s ReadyCampaign and the Flat Stanley Project collaborate on an app to help educate school-aged children on the need to be prepared for emergencies and disasters, as well as what they can do to help their families and loved ones to build more resilient households.

Flat Stella and Flat Stanley Characters with FEMA hat, Flashlight and Kit Bag with Ready Logo

By downloading the app, children and their parents can build their own FEMA Flat Stanley or Flat Stella, and then share with other children and classrooms the steps they have taken to support preparedness throughout their homes, schools and communities.

According to Flatter World, 15 percent of all schools in the U.S. use the adventures of Flat Stanley in their classroom lesson plans.  And in case you did not notice, Flat Stanley’s sister, Flat Stella has joined the campaign.

 

Education is key for reducing children’s risks to disasters

When disaster strikes children often suffer the most, but if we can teach them at an early age about the risks posed by natural hazards, they will have a better chance to survive and thrive in the aftermath of a disaster.

Natural hazards, such as floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, do not need to become disasters. For example, if a hurricane churns through a location where no one lives, the hurricane is just a natural hazard, not a disaster. But if people are living in the area where the hurricane makes land fall are affected and even killed by the hurricane, in this case, the hurricane becomes a disaster.

The United Nation Office for Disaster Risk Reduction has developed a series of on-line disaster simulation games designed to teach children around the world how to protect themselves from natural hazards before they can become major disasters.

Children who play the games learn how the location and the construction materials used to build houses can make a difference when disasters strike, as well as how early warning systems, evacuation plans and education can save lives.

As the future architects, mayors, doctors, and parents of the world of tomorrow, when children know what to do to reduce the impact of disasters, they will be obliged create a safer world for the generations that come after them.

How to Survive & Thrive After Sandy

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, we had the great fortune of being introduced to and spending time with Kindra Arensen, a mother, wife to a commercial fisherman, and the so-called Erin Brockovick of Southern Louisiana. 

Thomas Jefferson Community Leadership Award winner for her work advocating on behalf of thousands of commercial fishermen who lost their livelihoods, as well as their health in the aftermath of the BP Oil Spill, Kindra is a straight up rock star, with universally recognized YouTube videos capturing her frank, angry and emotional accounts of her husband and other fishermen getting sick during cleanup.

In 2010, Australian 60 Minutes featured her in a piece on the after effects of the oil spill, suggesting, “This is going to affect the entire world.”  With more  than 300 interviews behind her, she’s still fighting both public and media perception of the disaster.  With a strong eye focused two the media.  “It’s a huge picture, and a picture’s worth 1,000 words.  If it’s not painted correctly, that’s one of the problems I have with the media,” she said.

In addition to the technological disaster caused by BP, Kindra has experienced her fair share of natural disasters, namely Hurricanes Dennis, Gustav, Isaac, Ivan, Katrina, Lili, Rita, and Tropical Storm Lee.  She recently shared some insights on how best to cope in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  

In her own words:

WOW Sandy slammed the east coast, the photos look like what we walked upon 7 years ago after Katrina. Most of the folks that have been hit by this storm may have never dealt with something of this magnitude.

So I will offer the following.

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Call or go online & register with FEMA.
  3. Hold on to as much cash as possible.
  4. You may be thinking omg how will I pay my bills, when you have some time call all of the companies that you have loans with and ask that they differ your payments, the last thing you need is collection calls.
  5. Remove all auto pays from your accounts.
  6. Within the first week officials will approve food stamps, registering online makes the process a little faster. I know some will not want to access fs, but right now everything will help.
  7. File claims with your home owners, flood insurance, and car insurance & on anything that has been hit.
  8. Register for email updates with your local government.
  9. Some churches will help with many things. After Katrina a church in Fla provided a home for our family for 6 months, I don’t know what we would have done without the assistance of the churches.
  10. Remember everyone will be under a tremendous amount of stress.
  11. So loved ones may be snappy. This will put a strain on many relationships. Love each other trough the madness, you will be stronger for it.
  12. If you have children, try not to watch storm coverage while they are present.

I wish someone would have told me the above when we were hit by Katrina. This situation will stay with those hit for the rest of their life, but life does go on. I hope this helps some.

Our thoughts & prayers are with you…

Kendra Arnesen

High Res Video of Hurricane Sandy

Sandy is a massive category 1 hurricane, expected to bring life-threatening storm surge to the mid-Atlantic coast, Monday evening and early Tuesday. To get a better sense to the size and scope of the hurricane, check out this high-resolution video from NASA.